Matt Kelton is chief operating officer of Nashville-based Showhomes Franchise Corp., the parent of home staging franchise company Showhomes. The company has 60 franchise offices in 20 states and is transitioning this year to provide expanded services.
Post Managing Editor William Williams briefly chatted with Kelton to get his take on the business.
WW: The company is adding various interior services, such as carpet and countertop replacement. And you are looking at exterior offerings. Where could this lead?
MK: Showhomes began as a home staging franchise and we have evolved due to customer demand over the years. We have become a “one-stop shop” for any needs of the home owner in regards to the interior décor and updating of a property. We currently are only focused on the inside of homes but we plan to expand upon the curb appeal aspect, which would result in adding landscaping services. Instead of a home owner having to deal with four or five different vendors, Showhomes could be the sole source project management team to handle all of their needs.
WW: How were you first quarter numbers?
MK: Showhomes contracted 190 new homes with a total list price value of $134 million in the first quarter of 2014. Overall revenue (compared to was up 25 percent for continuously operating operations.
WW: You added eight franchisees in 2013. How many do you want to add this year?
MK: [We] plan to add 20 new franchisees in 2014.
WW: Showhomes is based in Nashville but you spend a lot of time in Dallas. How does that work?
MK: We are a virtual company with operations staff in several cities including Dallas, Chattanooga and a few in Central California. All of our systems are cloud-based and with email, conference calls, Skype, Google Hang-outs, and more it really doesn’t matter where we are based. Our franchisees have online manuals along with our custom-based CRM system to run the business, which is all in the cloud. I spend lots of time on the phone and on Skype.
WW: Why is there not another company that provides home staging services and that is, at the least, fairly national in scope? The industry seems fragmented. Your thoughts?
MK: There isn’t [a company] that I am aware of that offers staging on a national basis. There are some stagers with offices in different cities but no one that has a nationwide presence like Showhomes. There are quite a bit of moving parts to the model and if you don’t have the systems, back-office support, and name brand like Showhomes, it can be difficult to get momentum. We have made many of the mistakes someone starting out on their own would make trying to figure out this business. That’s really one of the great things about franchising.